Action 9: The difference between low-income tax credits and income-based rent programs

Action 9: Understanding the difference between low-income tax credits and income-based rent programs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte renter learned the difference between low-income tax credits and income-based rent programs the hard way.

Cerise Gray-Jones was looking for an apartment she could afford.

“You’ve got all of these [apartments] springing up everywhere and people are quick to say, ‘Oh, we’re making affordable housing.’ But the problem is that their version of affordable and my version of affordable is two very different things,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

Content Continues Below

She thought she found an affordable place to live at Ten05 West Trade in uptown.

It gets low-income tax credits, but Gray-Jones heard “low-income” and thought that was the same as “income-based” rent. It’s not the same, however.

A low-income tax credit means the developer or landlord will offer some units below market price to receive a tax break.

Income-based rent programs allow renters to pay a certain amount while the government subsidizes the rest, which is similar to Section 8. Typically, rent will be much less expensive with this program.

Since she thought Ten05 West Trade was income-based, Gray-Jones put down $300 to hold a unit when one became available.

A unit opened up, but it turned out to be more expensive than she expected. She said she went home and prayed about it but ultimately decided the cost wasn’t going to work for her.

When she notified a leasing agent with Ten05 West Trade to let them know she wasn’t going to be able to take the unit, she asked for her $300 back.

She told Stoogenke the agent promised her that she’d get a refund within 30 days.

After about a month and a half, she told the landlord she was contacting Action 9.

“And within about an hour and a half, somebody called back and said, ‘We’re sorry Ms. Gray. We’ll overnight you a payment right now.’”

And they did.

An agent with Ten05 West Trade told Stoogenke that the deposit should have been returned in a more timely manner.

The agent also noted that “the differences between tax credit and income-based rent programs are complicated and can be difficult to understand. This may explain how the rental rate was misinterpreted.”

Action 9 helps Cornelius woman get refund for ‘free’ lab work